Workforce.com

Temporary Executive Talent

July 29, 2008
Like many senior executives, Jody Greenstone Miller has experienced the frustration of wanting to try a new business initiative but not having the right talent to do it. And she has seen the other side of the equation: executives wanting to use their skills, but not wanting to sign their lives away. That’s how Business Talent Group was born. The Los Angeles company has more than 600 senior execs who can be placed quickly for temporary-to-permanent positions. Greenstone Miller spoke with Workforce Management New York bureau chief Jessica Marquez.

    Workforce Management: How does your organization address the need for companies to develop and hire talent that can respond to business needs as they change?

    Jody Greenstone Miller: When I described the business to two senior executives of Fortune 500 companies [in separate discussions], they both said that if they had confidence that they could access really great talent quickly, they would try a lot more things. At the same time, I personally believe that the future of management is people coming together in teams, doing projects and then disbanding.The talent pool is increasingly frustrated with the options they have—it’s all or nothing. We recently placed someone in one of the most senior positions at a Fortune 100 company who would only give them three days a week. This firm had never taken someone for three days a week, but they were desperate and they found that he could do it and it was more cost-effective for them.

    WM: How do you find and screen the talent?

    Greenstone Miller: Our talent comes to us from a variety of trusted sources through our personal network. We have all been in a lot of different industries and know a lot of talent. And once we engage good talent, those people will send us others who they think are good. And often clients send us talent. We do extensive screening, which includes a résumé screen, interviews with one to four people, background checks, and we have extensive reference checking. Often companies check references to find something wrong with the person, but since we are looking to put people potentially in a series of roles, we need to understand them and understand what environments they are going to like and be successful in.

    WM: What is your revenue model?

    Greenstone Miller: We do a 70/30 split, with the talent getting 70 percent. If there is a conversion to a permanent position, which happens 25 percent of the time, we will take a conversion fee similar to what recruiting firms take.

    WM: How is the recession affecting your business?

    Greenstone Miller: People are more focused on making their current businesses more efficient. We are seeing more requests for supply-chain management that can focus on cost reduction. And we are starting to see clients taking longer to make decisions on their end.

    WM: You mentioned that it’s rarely HR that contacts you for help. Why do you think that is?

    Greenstone Miller: Most of the companies calling us are in a bind and don’t think HR can solve it. Some of the more visionary HR executives are starting to see us as a unique service.

Workforce Management, July 14, 2008, p. 8 -- Subscribe Now!